Gray-crowned Crocias found at new area in Vietnam March 27, 2012

Posted by David Bishop

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David Bishop

David Bishop loves his vocation and cannot imagine anything better than exploring wild and beautiful places in Asia and the Pacific in the company of friends and clients. H...

One of the rarest birds in the world, endemic to Vietnam, has just been discovered at a new location in Kon Tum Province by Victor Emanuel Nature Tours leader, David Bishop, significantly extending its known global range and offering hope that the species may not be as threatened with extinction as scientists fear.

Gray-crowned Crocias (Crocias langbianis) is one of the least known birds of Asia; it was so rare it was known as "the babbler that wouldn't come back." It was first described by a Swedish aristocrat, Count Gyldenstolpe, in 1939 from three specimens collected by young adventurer Bertil Bjorkgren. For over 50 years there were no further records until it was rediscovered by Jonathan C. Eames, Le Trong Trai, and Nguyen Cu at Chu Yang Sin National Park in 1994. The species is currently considered Endangered with extinction by IUCN.

On March 19, 2012 David Bishop was with tour participants leading a VENT tour at Mang Den in Kon Tum Province when he first heard and then saw a pair of Gray-crowned Crocias.

"Soon after arrival at the site I immediately recognized the distinctive calls of Gray-crowned Crocias," said David. "I made a sound recording and observed a pair calling and duetting from the nearby tops of trees in a small clearing." A second pair was heard later some distance below within a steep valley.

"This is the first time this globally Endangered and little-known species has been recorded in Kon Tum Province. Previously it was known only from sites in Lam Dong and Dak Lak provinces. These records extend the range of this rather localized species by circa 250 km northwards,” said Le Trong Trai Senior Programme Officer with BirdLife Vietnam Programme.

"Hopefully the knowledge that this species actually occupies a larger range than previously thought will greatly enhance its conservation prospects. It perhaps also underlines the value of professionally led bird tours," added Richard Craik, whose company Vietnam Birding was the ground agent for the VENT group.